Author Archives: Beck Tench

About Beck Tench

Presently a PhD Student at the University of Washington's Information School. Formerly a designer and technologist for science museums, libraries, and cultural non-profits. The questions I’m most curious about: What makes space and time conducive to contemplation? Do contemplative practices help create focus and clarity in a distracting digital culture? Can digital platforms and devices be designed to foster intentional choices? How are digital learning environments different from face-to-face ones?

Twenty-eight Tables Traffic Report

Weekly traffic pattern for Twenty-eight Tables

Weekly traffic pattern for Twenty-eight Tables

After 70 posts and 113 comments from 16 participants, Twenty-eight Tables received over 2,100 visits in one month.  The traffic spiked on February 3rd with 194 views in one day. sent the most visits our way.  Alpha Inventions, Google Reader and The Independent were other popular referrers.  The most popular post was the About page, followed by Shelly’s Family post, Beck’s Name That Dinner Club! poll and Robin’s Friends and neighbors.

The most popular outbound links were Allison’s Flickr photostream and the blogs of Erin and Anton.

Aside from the obvious I-already-know-the-blog-exists-but-I-can’t-remember-the-url searches, the following popular and/or peculiar Google searches landed folks  on this blog:

  • weird conversation topics
  • we can do it
  • funny conversation topics
  • dinner club names
  • conversation topics for children
  • “we can do it” poster for women’s lib
  • four layer cake
  • eating out dinner conversations
  • poopy lunch
  • “floor picnic” recipes
  • ideal meal to make for girlfriend first

Over 152 tags were used to describe our posts, moods and experience in 8 categories. Fourteen of the comments we received were Spam.  Authors posted accordingly:

  1. Erin H. – 13 posts
  2. Erin B. – 11 posts
  3. Beck – 9 posts (not inc. this one)
  4. Robin – 8 posts
  5. Morbo – 7 posts
  6. Vivian – 4 posts
  7. Allison – 3 posts
  8. Karen – 3 posts
  9. Anton – 2 posts
  10. Jules – 2 posts
  11. Shelly – 2 posts
  12. Tam – 2 posts
  13. Lisa – 1 post
  14. Matt – 1 post
  15. Melissa – 1 post
  16. Pat – 1 post

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59 days down, 306 to go.

Posted by Beck Tench

Cheers, everyone!

Cheers, everyone!

February is over and I’m sad to see it go. The habit I hope we keep, more than eating together at the table, is prioritizing the time to talk with one another every night.

Here are each of our tables:

  1. Home – Polenta w/garlicky greens and asparagas
  2. Home – Chili cheese veggie dogs with onion rings
  3. Out – Thai Cafe just the two of us.
  4. Out – The Mint with our monthly dinner clug
  5. Home – Chili cheese veggie dogs with onion rings
  6. Out – Toast with friends from The Pinhook
  7. Home – “Sopa Seca” with guac and salsa and chips
  8. Home – Peanut tofu, sauteed kale, mashed potatoes and buttermilk biscuits
  9. Home – Leftovers (from tables #7 and #8)
  10. Out – Jason’s Deli, just the two of us.
  11. Out – Curried green beans, garbanzos and brown rice with Vivian
  12. Home – Chili cheese veggie dogs with onion rings
  13. Out(ish) – Quick quesadilla at home for Allison; Taco Truck w/Pinhook friends for Beck
  14. Home – Homemade pizza
  15. Home – Italian veggie sausages with peppers and onions and baked sweet potatoes
  16. Home – Leftovers from table #15 plus broccoli
  17. Home – Chili cheese veggie dogs with onion rings
  18. Home – Polenta w/garlicky greens and asparagas and mozzarella cheese with Beth and Morgan
  19. Out – Blue Corn Cafe, just the two of us.
  20. Home – Green Tango Salad for Beck; Leftover pizza from table #14 for Allison
  21. Out – Jason’s Deli, just the two of us.
  22. Home – Breakfast from Guglhupf before Beck’s flight to Ft Worth
  23. Dinner Apart – (Beck in Ft. Worth)
  24. Dinner Apart – (Beck in Ft. Worth)
  25. Home – Chili cheese veggie dogs with onion rings
  26. Home – Grilled cheese, tomato soup and green beans
  27. Out – Sitar Indian Palace with Shel and Melissa
  28. Home – Tempeh, potato and broccoli quesadillas

So, we ate 26 out of 28 dinners together, 17 of which were at home, 7 featured some sort of weenie, 6 were with friends, and 5 were new recipes.

Are you happy you did this experiment?

Without any hesitation, yes. In fact, I think I’ll feel good about this month for years to come.

How have you changed as a result of Twenty-eight Tables?

I realized that it’s easy to prioritize time with Allison every night and that having that time with her makes my whole day better. I also realized, more than ever, that we make a good team.

What was the best and/or worst meal during this experiment?

The worst meal was table #20. Allison was feeling poorly and I was feeling demotivated and the table nearly didn’t happen. But she made it easy to eat together instead of give up, so we did and I’m glad for it.

The best meal was probably the pizza. But it’s moments and personal revelations that stick out as “bests” more than any associated meal.

Will you continue eating dinner at the table every night?

No. Allison and I have deemed hot dogs, pizza and quesadillas as Simpsons’ watchin’ food. But we do plan to eat at the table a lot more than we used to.

Would you recommend others try this experiment?


Thanks to each of my co-experimenters. I hope your February was as special as mine.

p/s. Here are the candles we burned at each of our home-based meals:

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Still Eatin’

Table No. 16

Table No. 16

As friend and former co-experimenter, Elizabeth, told me yesterday… I need to blog more.  (So I am.)

Allison and I have enjoyed 21 meals together in a row, with the exception of last Friday when she (wisely) made a quesadilla before heading to the Pinhook where word-on-the-street was that the taco truck was remarkably anti-vegetarian (and it was).  Even that night, though, we were together while we ate our separate meals.

Tonight was our last table together until the 25th.  Over salads at Jason’s Deli, we talked about ways we’ve changed so far:

  • We have more thoughtful conversations than normal. One of the things I’ve always loved about my relationship with Allison is that every once in a while we’ll engage in a really satisfying, intellectually stimulating conversation.  With Twenty-eight Tables, we’ve had several of those types of conversations each week.  It’s great.
  • We’ve tried new foods. At least four of our tables we’ve cooked something completely new.  Considering how routine we are with our meals, four new meals in three weeks is significant.
  • We watch way less TV. With the exception of Futurama lulling us to sleep each night, I don’t think we’ve watched much TV at all this month.  I can only think of one (weeknight) evening when I’ve watched TV.
  • I work less in the evenings. I decided a week ago to not take my laptop out of my bag until after dinner.  I’ve also been reading more.
  • We’re doing this together. Allison and I are all about personal goals, but we don’t have joint ones too often.  It’s been neat to be aiming for the same thing.  I like her on my team.

So far, so good.  This has been an easy and rewarding experiment.  I look forward to seeing if it changes our habits after the 28 days are up.

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Five 4 Table Six

Posted by Beck Tench

Dinner at Toast with Elizabeth, Howard and Brad

Dinner at Toast with Elizabeth, Allison, Howard, me and Brad

Several years ago, I was in the habit of going to the downtown bar, Joe and Jo’s, every Friday night.  I would have a Red Oak or two and share wings with the best wing-eating partner, ever, Rachelle.  Friends would stop by and a joyous time was had by all.  When JJ’s closed, no other establishment could provide the same balance of good beer, diverse people and grit, so our crowd dispersed and the habit fizzled.

With the opening of The Pinhook, a more-than-suitable JJ’s replacement, I have reclaimed my former happy hour habit.  Last night, after a sufficient stay, we walked down to Toast, shoved three tables into one and had delicious soup and sammies*.  You may recognize Howard from this post on Another HCI Blog, Elizabeth from A Month in the Raw fame and Brad from his video vignette on The Smartwool Experiment.  Allison and I both had the three cheese grilled cheese (so sharp and savory).  I had the cauliflower purée soup (a personal favorite) and Allison had the Ribollita, which she said was super tasty.

We talked excitedly about current, future and past Experimonth projects.  Both Elizabeth and I are surprised at how much we’re looking forward to May (Walk a Mile) and June (Wake up at 5am).  Howard suggested “Do a favor for someone everyday” and I realized that could easily be done in December (Give up and give). A highlight for me was when I asked the owner to snap this picture because we were going to blog about it and she said that she read about us in the Indy.  So cool.

*That one’s just for you, Brad.


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Name That Dinner Club!

Posted by Beck Tench

In September of 2007, the above motley crew of physical therapists, library folk and techies started eating dinners together every first Wednesday of the month.  This past Wednesday, we met at The Mint, an Indian restaurant on Franklin Street.  The food and service were fantastic.

We started with appetizers (pakora, samosa, fried potato and fried cheese with chutney and tamarind sauce) and then each ordered a dish to share.  There were five veggie dishes (palak paneer, subz, a mushroom dish, an eggplant dish, and something I can’t remember) and three meat dishes (prawns, chicken kabobs, lamb curry).  We had inordinate amounts of garlic naan and were too stuffed (for the first time, I believe) to order dessert.

We decided that our group needs a name and ask you to help us decide:


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Two for Table Two

Posted by Beck Tench

Table number two.

Table number two.

You could say I was waiting for last night even before we began this experiment because I am always waiting to have hot dogs.  Now that the thought occurs to me, I think I have another goal for this experiment and it is to have hot dogs more than any other meal.  Here I am eating (veggie) hot dogs with homemade (vegan) chili, cheddar cheese (And I helped!) and yellow mustard on a potato bread bun with onion rings. It’s quite possibly my favorite meal and I always want to have it for dinner.  My carbonated water is from a Soda Club, which I received as a gift for Christmas and so far highly recommend.

Tonight’s meal was much shorter than last night’s.  I found that for the first few bites, my meal tasted especially good (like mindful eating good).  My focus only stayed that way for a few minutes, but it was nice.

We ended our meal with a friendly game of push the bottle cap across the table closest to the edge, but so that it doesn’t fall off.  I won.

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